UN food-aid agency to address long-term nutrition needs in DPRK

16 September 2005

Even though its emergency operation feeding operation for 6.5 million vulnerable people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is severely under-funded, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today pledged to continue working with the Government and the donor community to ensure that long-term needs are met.

Even though its emergency operation feeding operation for 6.5 million vulnerable people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is severely under-funded, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today pledged to continue working with the Government and the donor community to ensure that long-term needs are met.

“The transition from emergency assistance to the promotion of longer-term food security is an important feature of our operation and will be accelerated,” said Richard Ragan, WFP’s Country Director for the DPRK, which has suffered years of hardship from floods, droughts and economic changes.

The aid operation’s shortfalls over the past four years have deprived millions of its beneficiaries of supplementary rations of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and other commodities for long periods, Mr. Ragan said.

To date, only 270,000 of the 500,000 tonnes of food needed for 2005 has arrived.

Mr. Ragan described as inaccurate recent media reports alleging that the DPRK Government had asked WFP to leave the country by year’s end.

“Our counterparts in Pyongyang see us as a valuable partner and want the relationship to continue," he said. “But they have expressed a clear preference for development-oriented assistance over emergency relief. That shift is already well underway. Three-quarters of our current activities involve some form of capacity-building."

WFP supports food-for-work projects which provide nourishment to participants and their families, create employment opportunities where few otherwise exist, and help build and rehabilitate community-level agricultural and urban infrastructure.

“We are discussing with the Government and with donors how our assistance programme can be further refined to support development,” Mr. Ragan said.

WFP is by far the largest aid agency in the DPRK, with 40 international staff members and six offices countrywide. According to the agency, it has progressively refined its targeting and monitoring mechanisms since 1995 to ensure that donations channeled through the agency reach the neediest.

 

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